“I want to play with you.”
Her head tilted to her side as she stared innocently at him. “You only played with me for a half day last time. But then you never came to see Dai Dai again! The kite you made broke already, can you make me another one?”
“What? It broke? How?” Bai Yunfei started. For the sake of honoring his promise, he went to play with Dai Dai and helped make her a goldfish-shaped kite to play with. It had been made with high-quality paper that was pliable, but strong; and even if it were to get wet, it wouldn’t break so easily.
Huangfu Rui’s face twisted together, “It was hit by lightning the afternoon before yesterday….”
Black lines etched itself onto Bai Yunfei’s face—“There was a thunderstorm on that day and you were still flying a kite?!”
“Uh….were you hurt?” Bai Yunfei just had to ask.
Baffled, the girl responded, “Nope. But I…I felt numb for a bit. The kite was completely broken though…..”
“Brother strawhat, play with me again! Can we fly another kite? Please?” Huangfu Rui’s large eyes stared up at Bai Yunfei to plead with him as if she were a spoiled child.
“Junior,” Bai Yunfei started to speak with scrunched eyebrows, “I’m very busy right now. I have to craft a soul armament very soon, so I….”
Huangfu Rui pouted, “Hmph! Senior Yun was right! Brother strawhat only knows how to craft! Senior Yun said that this wasn’t right. She said that you have to take a break every so often, or else you’ll get even worse! That’s why she came with me today to play with you.”
Bai Yunfei’s eyebrow flew up at that, “Senior Yun…Xinyun’s here as well?”
“Dai Dai, I told you to not go straight in! Why must you run in without even a word?” At that moment, a warm voice called out from the entrance of the cave. A figure in white soon entered the cave, revealing itself to be Tang Xinyun.
“Xinyun, what brings you here as well…?” Bai Yunfei was almost afraid to ask. The last time he met Huangfu Rui, Tang Xinyun had been right next to her. The two of them got along just fine, but for what reason would she have to call the newcomer ‘senior’ Yun?
Was it because Tang Xinyun had also a partner as cute as ‘Xiao Baibai’??
“Xiao Rui is always talking about you and how she loves the toys you made for her incessantly. I couldn’t convince her not to come, so I decided to accompany her here to find you.” Tang Xinyun greeted Bai Yunfei with a smile. A small dimple was just barely noticeable on the left side of her face.
Looking at the pile of broken soul armament fragments in the corner of the cave, her eyebrows knitted together, “Yunfei, did you spend the past several days crafting all of this in the cave?”
Now that both Bai Yunfei and Tang Xinyun met again in the Crafting School, they saw each other as good friends rather than acquaintances. They were far more familiar with one another, and no longer did they regard each other at an arm’s length away.
Tang Xinyun had joked that Bai Yunfei should call her ‘senior’, and Bai Yunfei had naturally disagreed to do so.
Bai Yunfei sighed, “I just have to. I’ve only five days left until the third month. If I don’t make an earth grade soul armament….”
“I said it before, so I’ll say it again. You don’t need to work so hard like this.” Tang Xinyun spoke with exasperation. “I heard master say that the headmaster has already decided to annul the trial and take you in as a disciple without any conditions. Why are you trying so hard still then?”
Bai Yunfei shook his head, “Every single student of the school is watching me. I need to prove my strength and talent that I belong as a disciple!”
He paused here to look at the cauldron behind him. “I feel like I’m at a bottleneck of some sort. Who knows….”
“Yunfei, you’re far too dedicated to this.” Tang Xinyun sighed. “I’m sure the headmaster has told you already, the path of crafting isn’t something that can be rushed head-on. If you want to craft an earth grade soul armament, then let me ask you, have you succeeded in making soul armaments today?”
“I….” It was then Bai Yunfei realized the truth behind what she was saying. He had been so focused on crafting an earth grade soul armament, he didn’t even realize that out of dozens of attempts, not a single one of them had succeeded!
Tang Xinyun laughed in response, “Overexertion leads to an improper mindset when crafting. It’s a good thing Xiao Rui found you when she did.
“In my opinion, you should play with her today and take your mind off things for now. The next time you try crafting, it’ll be a lot easier.”
“Yea yea! Mom only lets me craft three soul armaments a day! She said that anymore would be pointless.” Huangfu Rui nodded from the side.
“Brother strawhat, come play with me! Dai Dai is amazing, you know. I can shrink a lot of materials and make them even stronger!”
He was silent this time. What Tang Xinyun said to him made sense; perhaps it would actually be best if he took a break and wind down. Recollecting the cauldron, Bai Yunfei smiled. “Alright, then I’ll play with junior Rui for a while. Didn’t you want a kite? I’ll make you an even bigger kite in the shape of a butterfly this time…”
Huangfu Rui was ecstatic. “Really?! Okay! Yes! Make it now then! We can fly it up above the hills!”
The northern grasslands of the Eastern Point was already a lush area of jade-green since it was already the second month of the year. All of the nearby trees were filled with vivid leaves and life was springing up from every area.
Huangfu Rui was running around the place with the kite in hand and a delightful scream coming from her lips. Up above, a giant butterfly kite was ‘flapping’ it’s wings as it flew through the air. The quickshade bird followed the kite with a flap of its wings every so often, as if to say, “I’m a kite too!”
As for the small pig named Xiao Rourou, it chased after Huangfu Rui right behind with a snort and a grunt every so often.
Bai Yunfei just had to sweatdrop at the sight.
The two of them were both fifth-tier soulbeasts, how could they be reduced to such simple pets that loved to play?
Right by his side, Tang Xinyun smiled as she watched Huangfu Rui play to her heart’s content.
Looking to her, Bai Yunfei asked, “Hey, Xinyun, have you already started learning the art of crafting?”
“It’s a little early for that. I’ve only just become a Soul Sprite not too long ago; so I can’t even control the elemental fire yet.” Tang Xinyun shook her head.
“I’m currently trying to train in the Secrets of Firebending still. Why must you compare me to you? By the first month, you’ve mastered the Secrets of Firebending, and by the second month, you’re able to craft human grade soul armaments now. And yet you’re still throwing yourself at trying to make an earth grade soul armament. Don’t you know most of the students already see you as a god or something? I know there’s plenty of junior sisters on the Eastern Point that are getting quite curious about you.”
“Ah? Is that so?” Bai Yunfei scratched his head in embarrassment, “How do the other students even know about my progress anyways?”
“I think a junior named Zhang Sanxian started the rumors.” She smiled. “He’s said to be the ‘Bai Xiaosheng’ of the Crafting School. He’s also known as a chatterbox. All of the rumors are from the ‘secret information’ he has, haha…”
TL Note: Bai Xiaosheng is a fictional character by Wuxia novelist Gu Long. He was said to have started a list of the best fighters and weapons in the Wulin.
Bai Yunfei was speechless. Zhang Sanxian was the very first person he had met from the Crafting School on friendly terms while also being of the same Western Point as him. The only difference was that Zhang Sanxian was situated on the western side of the courtyard–a respectively far distance away from Bai Yunfei. Combined with how busy Bai Yunfei was in his training, the two rarely met with one another. The information he had on Bai Yunfei surely had to be supplemented by what Bai Yunfei’s neighbor, Si Kongxian, knew.
As expected from the two ‘Xians’, they would be good friends with one another.
Watching the quickshade bird fly across the skies, Bai Yunfei spoke, “Hey, Xinyun, why do I feel as if Xiao Bai’s got….”
“Got a little stronger?” Tang Xinyun smiled. “That’s because it did. Xiao Bai’s already become a middle-stage fifth-tier soulbeast.”
“That fast?” Bai Yunfei was surprised.
Tang Xinyun nodded. “It was severely hurt when we saved it a long time ago. After its wounds healed after the escape from the beast tamers in Gaoyi City, its wounds were fully healed by the time we got to the Crafting School. When I became a Soul Sprite, Xiao Bai gained some power from the soul contract it had with me. The remaining wounds were healed and it became stronger.”
“Ah?” Bai Yunfei uttered, “A soul contract had a use like that?”
“Yes. Soul contracts are wondrously magical. Not only did it allow for Xiao Bai and I to share our thoughts, it synchronized our soulforce together in a kind of symbiotic way.” She nodded, “This is the unique effect of a soul contract. That’s why so many soul cultivators desperately wish to make a soul contract with a soulbeast.”
Bai Yunfei was astounded, “How great….I wish I had a soulbeast partner as well….”
But then he tilted his head to look down at the small ball-shaped white pig chasing happily after Huangfu Rui, “But I wouldn’t want a soulbeast like that one….”
Tang Xinyun laughed, “Haha, I heard master say that a student has to become a Soul Exalt before they’re allowed to travel to the Soulbeast Forest to form a soul contract with a soulbeast. Those who came to the school with a soulbeast partner like me are already non-existent almost…”
“A….A Soul Exalt?!” Speechless, Bai Yunfei responded, “Isn’t that asking just a little too much?! Just how long would a person have to wait…?”